Survey Suggests Office Ambiance Influences On-the-Job Innovation

Nov 18, 2005

MENLO PARK, CA -- Mood lighting may influence more than one’s romantic mindset; it can impact an employee’s creative quotient as well, a new survey suggests.  More than half (55 percent) of advertising and marketing executives polled said office environments -- including layout, décor and lighting -- greatly affect on-the-job innovation.  Another 38 percent of respondents reported one’s workplace impacts staff creativity at least somewhat.

The survey was developed by The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service that provides marketing, advertising, creative and web professionals on a project basis.  It was conducted by an independent research firm and includes 250 responses -- 125 from advertising executives with the nation’s 1,000 largest advertising agencies and 125 from senior marketing executives with the nation’s 1,000 largest companies.  

Advertising and marketing executives were asked, “In your opinion, to what extent, if any, does a company’s office environment, including layout, décor and lighting, affect creative output?”  Their responses:

Greatly   55%
Somewhat   38%
Not very much   5%
Not at all       2%

“Physical surroundings can heavily influence an employee’s ability to concentrate and perform well,” said Tracey Fuller, executive director of The Creative Group.  “Companies can encourage productivity and innovation by providing staff members with comfortable, attractive areas for team meetings, as well as individual work stations that can be tailored to personal needs and preferences.”

The Creative Group offered the following tips for developing a productive and stimulating office environment:

  • Construct “creativity” zones.  Designate a few office areas where informal meetings or spontaneous brainstorming sessions can occur.  Equip each room with industry publications and a white board to jot down ideas.  
  • Offer private sanctuaries.  While open floor plans can increase collaboration and communication among employees, some projects require greater concentration and solitude.  Provide stations where employees can work without distraction.  These spaces also can be used for teleconferences.    
  • Let there be light.  Maximize opportunities to benefit from natural daylight; position desks near windows so workers can have external views.  In locations where this is not possible, ensure sufficient ambient and task lighting are in place. 
  • Install an idea wall.  Transform the walls of a communal area -- the lounge or cafeteria, for example -- into a blank canvas for spontaneous scribbling.  Cover flat surfaces and tabletops with colorful paper and keep a jar of markers close by for people to post ideas.  
  • Venture into the unknown.  Hold staff or team meetings in unusual places -- a nearby courtyard, park or café, for example.  A change of scenery is sometimes all it takes to spark the imagination. 

The Creative Group has offices in major markets across the United States and in Canada, and offers online job search services at

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